Vacation Anyone? |
Christ said to His Apostles to be fishers of men, not to 'go fishing.' But over the past 40 years - specifically the recent 25 - every hook, line and sinker has been applied as a novelty to accept all fish as equal without the necessary action of making sure the hooks of evangelization are equipped with the indefatigable doctrines that would land an abundance of souls. The 'how to' has been missing because the chief fisherman has been on vacation, while the worms run the bait shop!
"Finally we can make sense of the state of the Church, quit wondering what in tarnation is wrong with Karol Wojytola, and stop fretting about the fact that lunacy reigns. We can quit trying to force the round peg of papal infallibility into the square hole of apostasy, and stop casting seditious glances and mean words at those Catholics who hold the temporary and terribly misunderstood position of sede-vacantists. We can stop expecting John Paul II to intervene and save the Church from any scandal or to act in any authoritative way whatsoever. Everyone knows that when the pope is on vacation he doesn't know what's going on back home. Sede-Vacationism just makes sense! In my estimation, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the laughing Abbott, whose silly portrait hangs in what is left of a Benedictine Abbey is serving tea and cookies at Castel Gondolfo right now or on board Holy Spirit One, ensuring a gleeful vacation for all!"
A couple of years ago I wrote a column, "The Death of an Abbey" telling readers of the impending closure of a Benedictine Abbey. Recently I had the opportunity to visit this beloved Abbey once more. Following are some of my reflections on what I found there, and a possible explanation for the absurdity of it all.
While walking down the echoing corridor of a soon to be abandoned Benedictine Abbey, I stopped to study the portraits of past Abbots. The large, framed photographs date back to the early 1900's, reflecting the lifespan of the Abbey and its grandeur and substance as a holy place to train and educate laborers for the Harvest. The black and white portraits showed the faces of men who lived lives of dedication; Abbots who had prayed and worshipped according to the traditional rites of the Church; men whose somber faces showed dignity and humility combined.
Toward the end of the hallway my attention was drawn to a large color portrait. Still some distance away, I stopped and starred at this photograph portraying a man dressed in the clothing of an Abbott, but sporting the most absurd ear-to-ear grin imaginable. One could only expect him to burst out laughing at any moment and share the joke with us. It appeared that he was some silly fellow dressed up like an Abbott, minus any aura of dignity or holiness. This, shallow, embarrassingly stupid portrait was a complete break with the past portraits, it was without precedence in the grand hall of this once flourishing Abbey. Without even looking at the date engraved on the bronze plaque attached to the frame, clearly this was a portrait of aggiornamento; this poor fellow could be the poster child for Vatican II.
Bringing down this beautiful Abbey wasn't easy; it took more than one court jester at the helm, but in time the hoped for fresh air, which turned out to be acid rain, took its toll and the vicious joke still rings silently throughout all the empty classrooms, vacant monastic cells, the abandoned library and offices, and the monks' dining room. The once awesome chapel is reduced to the bare ugly minimum required by the implementers of the new religion. Success!
As I wandered past the empty classrooms of the Abbey, I met an aged gentleman dressed in common work clothes who was collecting wastepaper from the trash receptacle at the main door. Striking up a conversation with him I discovered that he was one of the
handful of remaining monks. As I named the names of monks and priests I had known, he told me they were now down the lane in the Abbey cemetery. The entire Abbey including the campus is up for sale and will soon close down. There are no vocations, there is no life to carry on here.
"Where will you go?" I asked him.
"Oh, another monastery will take us in," he assured me. "We won't be left out in the cold."
Looking into his sad, sincere eyes, I could see that the reality of the New Springtime had dawned. As a young man he had come to this Abbey, taken vows, given his life and entire being to the service of Christ our Lord and His holy Church. These great halls had been his home for some 50 years, and now he is facing exile, while the portrait of the laughing Abbott stands guard.
As I drove away from the dying Abbey I expected to see, at any moment, a laughing bunch of clueless young people waving banners and shouting, "John Paul II, We love you!" It would be so appropriate to the moment.
This is only a tiny particle of the Church being flushed away; just an inconsequential Benedictine Abbey in the United States, far away from Rome and the papal apartments. Nary a ripple from this event will upset the equilibrium of the pontificate of John Paul II, as he signs his hand to the development of a "Sports Department" within the Vatican in order to make "the Holy See's solicitude felt in the world of sports." Got any of that good old solicitude for homeless, aged monks?
Any observer can see that the daily flushing away of Catholicism, affecting the number of priests and religious, along with the number of church closures and financially challenged dioceses, makes for a tremendous amount of sewage at the end of the year. According to a recent article in a diocesan newspaper, Catholic News Service reports that new figures show the number of priests and religious in the U.S. continues to plummet alongside the "long-term slide in church marriages." An analysis of diocesan clergy figures "showed nearly 3 out of every 10 diocesan priests in the country are now classified as retired, sick or on leave." Without getting into all the numbers, suffice it to say that the Church in the United States is still in a downward spiral in every category including the number of parishes and missions, enrollment in "Catholic" schools and universities, and the number of priests, nuns and brothers. How can someone who is supposed to be the pope actually continue to ignore this situation?
Perhaps John Paul II finds solace in the fact that the number of U.S. Catholics has increased by a reported number of 850,000, even though all the evidence points to the fact that the majority is as clueless as John Kerry, sporting a Catholic identity of which they know little if anything, remaining just as happy as ever to continue living in a state of apostasy that has been adopted by the post Conciliar church. In fact, while the number of priests steadily decline, the number of permanent (lay) deacons is on the rise. While the number of students enrolled in "Catholic" elementary and secondary schools showed a 3.2 percent decline, the number of teachers rose by more than 9000. Of that number, 8000 new teachers are lay people, who already account for 91 percent of the teaching force in "Catholic" schools. We can see that the intention of Vatican II to bring the priesthood of the people to the forefront is certainly working and will soon have completely replaced every other priestly and religious vocation. Is this the secret joke the laughing Abbott could hardly contain?
Week after week, year after year, Catholics are forced to stand vigil over the ludicrous and unholy actions and inactions of bishops, cardinals and Pope. We face the reality that John Paul II lives in another world where there is a perennial Springtime, Happy Meal Masses, eternal Youth Celebrations, and universal brotherhood under the rule of the United Nations. Surrounded by an ever growing library of his own autobiographies, poetry and personal philosophy, the man dressed in white understands very well the boundaries he has accepted as the successor of Paul VI. He has taken a vacation from publicly recognizing nearly everything that has to do with the crisis in the Church, although he has shown himself free to change the Rosary, talk incessantly about the Theology of the Body, promote the scandalous Cardinal Law, throw extravagant parties for the youth of the world, etc. None of these things mean anything to the bishops, and they couldn't care less if the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary exist or not, or whether Mary Beth Bonnaci and Christopher West spend their lives translating the Theology of the Body into terms that anyone can understand. A pope who entertains himself by racking up as many beatifications and canonizations as he can doesn't bother the bishops in the least bit. The important thing is that John Paul keep himself busy with trivia while the bishops "in communion" with him remain in charge of the church of the New Order, steadily implanting it worldwide, wringing their hands with contempt for all that is truly Catholic including the Traditional Roman Rite.
Rest assured, as long as there is any opposition within the ranks of cardinals and bishops to the Traditional Roman Rite of the Mass (the Tridentine Mass, the Traditional Latin Mass the Mass of Pope St. Pius V), John Paul II will never have the backbone to release the True Mass from captivity even though the New Mass is harmful to souls and the entire Church. Even if the Vatican tries to act Catholic and pretend that fixing some liturgical abuses will make a difference, we all know that the bishops aren't about to let anybody else call the shots in their dioceses, nor are they going to let anything from Rome get through without their approval. The pope is virtually powerless in this arena. All the ad lumina visits of the bishops to meet with the pope amount to nothing more than John Paul II giving his consent to remain "on vacation" in the Land of Ecumenism.
In light of the current situation in the Church, without even touching upon the facts surrounding the New Mass and the insanity linked to it, or the other despicable examples and evidence of the decline of Catholicism all around us (which John Paul II continues to laud as marvelous reforms of Vatican II), it is time to face the fact that the Chair of Peter is………on vacation!
Therefore I have coined the term, Sede-Vacationism, which will surely appeal to all traditional Catholics without offending anyone. This new term can be safely used to explain what we all know to be the true situation with the current papacy, and it conforms perfectly to the globe-trotting Pope who sports the label of "most traveled pope in history."
Finally we can make sense of the state of the Church, quit wondering what in tarnation is wrong with Karol Wojytola, and stop fretting about the fact that lunacy reigns. We can quit trying to force the round peg of papal infallibility into the square hole of apostasy, and stop casting seditious glances and mean words at those Catholics who hold the temporary and terribly misunderstood position of sede-vacantists. We can stop expecting John Paul II to intervene and save the Church from any scandal or to act in any authoritative way whatsoever. Everyone knows that when the pope is on vacation he doesn't know what's going on back home. Sede-Vacationism just makes sense! In my estimation, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the laughing Abbott, whose silly portrait hangs in what is left of a Benedictine Abbey is serving tea and cookies at Castel Gondolfo right now or on board Holy Spirit One, ensuring a gleeful vacation for all!
Having said all this, I intend that this column be my last one lamenting the sad details of the state of the Church which cause so much pain and so many tears for those of us who have refused to board the vacation luxury liner.
In future, I hope to focus on some of the gems I have discovered, by the grace of Our Lord, which have helped me, or continue to help me seek the Face of God. We have far too great a treasure in Catholicism to be side tracked by the relentless battle raging between different factions, or those clinging to the corpse of the church of the New Order. The focus of our battle must remain the salvation of souls, the ongoing, daily pursuit of that Kingdom which knows no end. To this end, we have a cloud of witnesses urging us on, many who have left words of wisdom in written form to help us along the way. It only makes sense to listen to them more assiduously, listening to news media less and less.
Lest we become hardened from Novus Ordo battle scars, it's time to once again enter into the calming words of our Lord, remembering that "whoever does not accept the kingdom of God as a little child will not enter into it." Our friends and family will not be drawn to the Church through our bickering and criticisms, but through one thing only. That one thing is the love of Christ. Let that one thing be our life and breath, our joy, our desire and our satisfaction. May it be our motivation for every action and every word.
"Our very looks must be brought into subjection to grace. The more earnestly
we are striving to form Jesus in our hearts, the more will His sweetness transpire through our features without our knowing it…..the inward peace and harmony of the soul reflect themselves discernibly upon the countenance." (Growth in Holiness, Fr. Faber)
"Come LORD JESUS!"
For past columns by Catharine, see 2004lam.htm Archives